Happy birthday, New Beverly!
Wait a second, you’re 30? Get out of here!
Let me take a look at you. Wow, you look really good! No, I mean it.
Thirty? Sheesh. I feel like we just met the other day. That was, what, 14 years ago? I was an 18-year-old freshman at UCLA trying to get into film school, and you must have been sweet sixteen.
Or were you?
Okay, let’s be honest. You’re older than 30, right? It’s alright, Arclight and Cinespace aren’t listening.
Listen, Bev, the “New” in your name may fool some, but most of us know your history. No, I’m not talking about your Slapsie Maxies days, when you hung out with mob boss Mickey Cohen and dabbled in vaudeville. And no, I’m not referring to your cinema society days when you went by the names “Riviera” or “Capri.”
Photo: Thirty years later, and still made out of people! The New Beverly on May 5, 2008. Photo by Mike Winder.
Does the name “Eros” ring a bell? That was your name from 1960–66, back when European eroticism was your bag, right? Later you changed your name to “Beverly,” gave up the European facade, and went into full-blown, straight-up adult entertainment.
Hey, don’t look so shocked! It’s all up there on your website!
Relax, I’m not judging you. From what I hear, the sixties and seventies were a crazy time.
Okay, you’re right. That wasn’t fair on my part. That was a whole lifetime ago.
Besides, your salacious past doesn’t overshadow the fact that since 1978 you’ve been a movie-lover’s best friend and the ultimate cheap date.
Wait, that didn’t come out right. But it’s true. You’ve always been game for a fun, no-frills double bill of classic, foreign, independent, or cult cinema.
I still remember the first day I saw one of your punk rock-inspired calendars on the UCLA campus. There was something so seductive about those single-sheet, double-sided collages you put together every two months. I especially loved the way you carefully cut and paste those film titles, taglines, and pictures, arranging them into a work of art that looked like the love child of a ransom note and a newspaper’s movie listings.
After seeing what you could do with a pair of scissors and a photocopy machine, I knew I had to leave the safety of Westwood and meet you in person.
I know you probably get tired of talking movies all the time, but we sure had a lot of fun watching them together, didn’t we? Remember Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past? Jean Gabin in Pepe Le Moko? Michael Caine in Get Carter? You were my first time with them all. You also introduced me to Akira Kurosawa’s Ran, the Marx Brothers’ Night at the Opera, and Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Cercle Rouge.
Speaking of films, I understand this month you’re replicating your very first calendar from May of 1978? That’s such a great idea! It looks like you’re showing some of my favorite films, many of which I saw for the first time with you: Forbidden Planet this Thursday and Friday; Sleeper next Wednesday and Thursday; and Chinatown on May 18, 19, and 20.
Each screening is $7 and coupled with another film? Wow, you were always so generous.
I’m so sorry we haven’t been in touch lately. I was very sad to hear of Sherman’s passing last July. I know he was very close to you and the heart and soul of your programming. I know it must have been difficult to press forward without him. But it’s so wonderful that his family is taking good care of you.
I don’t mean to sound creepy, but I’ve been hearing a lot about you lately. I noticed you’ve had some special events with some good friends lately. Why, wasn’t it just last month that director Joe Dante stopped by your place and curated a festival of his favorite films? And don’t you also show midnight films now in partnership with Amoeba?
Hot damn! You really are looking good these days.
As for me, well, I’m a father now, and it’s not as easy to get out of the house as it used to be. But I know that’s no excuse, and dammnit, I’m really going to make an effort!
After all, you provide something that Netflix can never duplicate—a sense of history and an honest-to-goodness community.
And I can’t imagine Los Angeles without you.
Image: Scan of the New Beverly’s May 2008 calendar. Note: they may be using a computer these days.